As you are probably very aware by now, Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Section 1557 Final Rule became effective July 18, 2016 and the final date for posting of required notices was October 16, 2016 (90 days from the effective date of the Final Rule). The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs or activities. Section 1557 builds on Federal civil rights laws that include:
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Title XI of the Education Amendments of 1972
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Age Discrimination Act of 1975
Section 1557 extends nondiscrimination protections to people participating in: 1) any health program, or activity, any part of which receives funding from Health and Human Services (HHS); 2) any health program or activity that HHS itself administers; and 3) Health Insurance Marketplaces and all plans offered by issuers that take part in those marketplaces.
So, that is the background of this final rule that was issued on May 13, 2016, and became effective July 18, 2016. What you may not be aware of is that, in December 2016, a federal judge in Texas issued a temporary nation-wide injunction that prevents HHS from enforcing the final rule relating to the Section 1557 prohibition against sex discrimination pertaining to “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy”.
Violation of religious freedom, impact on medical judgment, and burdensome changes to health insurance plans were argued by a group of plaintiffs representing 5 states and 3 health care organizations with a religious affiliation. For additional information regarding the Federal injunction see the HHS website update. So for now stay tuned, but be sure to take care of your existing Section 1557 obligations – the injunction does limit action to enforce the prohibition on discrimination based on gender identity and termination of pregnancy
ACA Section 1557 Compliance – Next Steps
The injunction does not affect any of the other Section 1557 requirements, including among others the need to have: 1) a Section 1557 Coordinator; 2) a grievance procedure; and 3) to post nondiscrimination notices and non-English taglines. Are you currently 1557 compliant? Did you miss the deadline? Do you need a quick start?